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View Full Version : Ever taken a sabbatical from your primary trainer?(long)



alternating_alter
Jan. 10, 2012, 09:06 AM
Just as the title says - I'm considering taking a brief (hopefully) hiatus from my primary trainer. This will be long, so I apologize in advance.

I've been with her (let's call her "Coach") for three years. She is an UL rider and is quite well known in this area. I have searched long and hard for someone of her quality, and she has improved my riding by A TON. I love her, and I want to continue working with her.

Lately, I've been taking lessons with an UL dressage rider and she has helped me immensely. I bring this up because Coach knows this, and I don't think it's sitting well with her, but she is classy enough to not say anything about it (to me, anyway). I'm afraid that if I bring up the idea of taking a brief break from her to work on some confidence issues, she REALLY won't take this well due to the dressage situation.

To summarize, I've been having confidence issues that will. not. go. away. I will have a lesson coming, get apprehensive about it and start looking (subconsciously) for excuses to cancel, suck it up and go, get pushed and then feel wonderful about accomplishing it, and then go right back to where I was before for the next lesson. I feel like I'm having the same lesson over and over again, with little to no discernible (sp?) progress. I have talked about this with Coach, even asking her to lower the heights of the fences or simplify the exercise to start, and her answer is, "No. Just go do it." She says that I need to be pushed beyond my comfort zone and she wouldn't ask me to do something that she didn't think I could do. I trust her, and she's right, and I know that both my horse and I are fully capable, but it's a mental block and this method of "just doing it" ain't workin' for me. I'm an older ammy rider, and my confidence, flexibility, and ability to heal is not what it used to be, and I think my brain knows this. My horse is willing, talented, and very quiet, but is also very sensitive and does exactly what I tell him to do with my body. Coach says that I should put him in training with her for a month. For many reasons that I won't get into, this is not possible or palatable for me. Plus, it doesn't address the MENTAL block I am having. Coach says that everybody deals with fear issues, and that we just learn to deal with them on our own. She knows I want to move up, but hasn't come up with ways to help me address the fear/apprehension.

I have found a wonderful trainer through a hunter friend of mine - let's call her M. M is mostly a hunter trainer, and a GOOD one (none of this hunter-perch floppy rein thing). She does have a few eventing clients and has gone XC herself, but isn't the UL rider that Coach is. She and I have talked in depth about my mental block and she knows about Coach and that I am unwilling to leave her. M specializes in working through anxiety and fear issues, and in the three lessons I have had with her (she comes to my barn - I trailer out to Coach's place), we have made HUGE strides. I used to not be able to jump a course at home because of the problems I would cause. Coach told me not to jump without her. I can only afford one lesson a week, so if I don't jump in a lesson, I can't practice at all - hence, why I am not making progress. After the 2nd lesson with M, I was able to jump around a course the same size as the ones I was working through with Coach all by myself, successfully, and have fun dong it. What's more, I find myself actually looking forward to these lessons with her and not looking for excuses to cancel, because even though I get pushed slightly beyond my comfort zone, it's in a very progressive way and I leave feeling like I have a few more tools in my box to handle the times when things don't go right.

I feel like if I can tackle these issues and address the mental thing, I can go back to Coach within the year and start doing the things she wanted me to do and actually grow. I would still like to take from M occasionally after this, because I think that every eventer could stand to finesse his/her jumping, and M knows all of this. How do I address it with Coach without hurting her feelings? I don't want to burn any bridges. I truly respect and admire Coach - I just don't think that she knows how to address this, because she doesn't understand where it is coming from, since she is an extremely talented, gutsy rider and it's been a looooong time since she has been in my shoes.

What would you do? I appreciate it if you've stuck through this saga with me and read 'til the end. PM me if you'd like, but I'm not going to give out any more details (names, etc.) that could get back to Coach until I am ready to address this myself with her. Thanks so much!

deltawave
Jan. 10, 2012, 09:15 AM
I don't know how old you are but would guess "old enough to stick up for yourself" and that's how I would look at this. I see nothing on earth wrong with what you're proposing. You've clearly thought it through and are not just making decisions with on impulse here.

A coach with whom you have a good working relationship deserves a fair explanation of your short-term goals, and although her feelings might be hurt on some level, she is a professional and it would be no reflection on YOU if she acted like an adolescent about this. ALL OF US take pride in what we do and it stings a little to face the reality that someone else may do it slightlly better, or even just differently, wherein the client/customer likes the other person's way better or it works better for them.

Being an adult means not pouting about this. If we are all confident in our professional qualifications and comfortable in our own skins, we can handle this sort of tiny little "sting". It doesn't mean your trainer needs to change HER style, or that you need to become a different person for her. You've just found a means of tackling a training problem that is working better for you.

The reality is that most of us do not have unlimited time and resources to spend on lessons, schooling, training or shows. Heck, if I did ALL my horses would be in full training and I'd find time to ride all of them, every day, when I wasn't hauling them all over the country for shows week after week! :lol:

It may seem scary, but I would suggest you put your thoughts as stated above together and have a sit-down with your regular trainer and spell out what your plans are. She works for you, but I get it that you have a relationship that goes beyond that. If you are friendly, professional, appreciative but honest, you will get your point across.

Sometimes it takes a different voice or technique to get something to happen. No professional would take this personally to the point where it ought to ruin an otherwise good relationship.

Good luck. :)

TheHotSensitiveType
Jan. 10, 2012, 09:25 AM
.... How do I address it with Coach without hurting her feelings?....

I am sorry to say that I do not know a way to do what you need to do without hurting her feelings at least a little bit. I mean wouldn't it hurt your feeling a little bit too if someone told you that you were not helping with a problem and they needed to get help elsewhere? You clearly know that your issues are not getting any better and need to make a change. It is OK to make the change, even if it hurts your current coaches feelings. If she is a mature adult, she will get over the hurt feelings.


...What would you do?...!

Be honest with her, she deserves that as she has been a good coach to you, and tell her that your fear issues are not getting better and you need a different program to get over them. Tell her that when you get over your fear issues, you will be back. Maybe that will help smooth things over a bit until you are ready to come back.


Best of luck to you. Fear issues are not fun at all!!!

JP60
Jan. 10, 2012, 11:47 AM
I agree with DW and find that in the end, talking it through is the healthy choice mentally and emotionally. By holding in your thoughts and feelings you build up, little by little a wall that the longer this goes on, it gets bigger and bigger till one day you discover there is little connecting you but momentum.

This happened to me as I began to learn. I am also an adult starter, not having ridden before 45. While my early issues were not related to fear, they were related to feeling set aside when "better" riders would join a group lesson, or at shows when better riders got more attention while I struggled with starting out. Some...much of that was me, but I never addressed my feelings to my "coach". Over time the feelings turned to resentment, suppressed anger, and a general unhappy approach to riding.

When my horse and I fell I was "forced" out of eventing for at least a year to heal. At some point I finally decided I needed my own wings (so to speak), my own space and I bought a farm, moved my horse there and looked for my next eventing horse. When I bought him I quickly realized that (1) quality trainers are few and far between, (2) I thought I could train on my own with a strange horse and that was becoming a disaster. My SO had been taking lessons with my "coach", I think telling her my trials, and slowly worked on me to seek her help.

There came a show where "coach" was going to be there with her gaggle of students and so was I. I peeked over that "wall" and asked if she would mind coaching me for the simple CT course I was registered for. She said yes and thank goodness. I did dressage on my own and my guy bucked 5 times during the test, at least 3 in warm up. I was on the edge when I got to jumping warmup. "Coach" took one look at us, pulled down the cross rails and within 15 mins had us relaxed and at the least going over poles. That moment I decided I'd work with her again and started to bash down the wall I had created. Since then she has taken us from nervous and most likely to buck, to calm and jumping two novice jumps.

I mention this story, because like what DW says, there may be a sting, but if a coach cannot solve a problem, they understand that the best and safest step is to find someone who can. If you took off then came back feeling better, more confident, that means your "coach" can now focus on riding, and not so much doubt. If she balks and says "you went away, stay away" then you don't have a professional or one with your best interest in mind. From what you described, a break wont hurt your relationship in the long run. I am grateful to be back with my coach and I am much more willing to talk about my needs.

Now, you opened up about your doubt/fear issue and I have to say, you mirror my own. I can jump home fences up to 2'6, but I look at a coop I made at that height and my heart twists. I visualize riding a course, something I love to do, and even in my mind I see a stop (sigh). I'd love to know what the other trainer is doing to help reenforce confidence. Like your horse, mine is a willing partner, but not experienced in cross country. He jumps well, but is sensitive to my thoughts (body language). I have talked with my coach about this issue. We're still working on approaches to handling doubt. Anything you may pass? Feel free to PM if you want.

RedLetterSales
Jan. 10, 2012, 11:56 AM
I think the biggest thing for you to understand, and you probably already know this, is that everyone learns differently. Also, everyone "needs" something different out of their lessons. If it's obvious that this other trainer teaches you in a way that helps you to improve (how you learn) and gives you confidence (what you need), I think you've found your new "coach". Have a talk with your current coach, let her know it's not personal (this is after all a business transaction) and go have some fun!

Meredith Clark
Jan. 10, 2012, 12:05 PM
After riding with one trainer and one trainer only for almost 10 years (from the time I was 8) I decided that I was going to ride with whom ever I want from then on out.

I take lessons with my good friend who is great, I take lessons with a local ULR who is great, I do clinics with BNT who are great, and sometimes I just take random lessons with people (which are.. you guessed it.. great!).

I will never commit myself to one trainer only, there's so much to learn from other people.

Boomdiata
Jan. 10, 2012, 12:27 PM
I switched trainers and while it was uncomfortable, it was the best move I ever made. There are two different trainers at my barn and I had been riding with one trainer and had my horse in training with her. My confidence, which wasn't great to begin with, kept going lower and lower and my trainer kept telling me I just needed to ride stronger, faster, etc. etc. I got to the point where I thought seriously about selling my horse. I told my trainer that I was going to try a lesson with the other trainer because I needed to try something different and that it wasn't anything personal.

Do I think she took it personally? Sure. I think it's hard to lose a client and even harder since we're still at the same barn, but she has remained mostly friendly and professional. But after three months of lesson with the other trainer, my confidence is starting to show up again. I still get anxious before a lesson sometimes, but mostly I'm just excited because I am actually making tangible progress.

So, switch. Now. Don't spend another dime on a coach who isn't right for you at this time. Horses are expensive, dangerous and time consuming. It's not worth riding with someone who isn't a good fit for you and though your coach might have been a perfect fit in the past, it definitely sounds like you need a different approach.

Heinz 57
Jan. 10, 2012, 12:35 PM
I have talked about this with Coach, even asking her to lower the heights of the fences or simplify the exercise to start, and her answer is, "No. Just go do it." She says that I need to be pushed beyond my comfort zone and she wouldn't ask me to do something that she didn't think I could do. I trust her, and she's right, and I know that both my horse and I are fully capable, but it's a mental block and this method of "just doing it" ain't workin' for me.
........

Coach says that everybody deals with fear issues, and that we just learn to deal with them on our own. She knows I want to move up, but hasn't come up with ways to help me address the fear/apprehension.

....

I feel like if I can tackle these issues and address the mental thing, I can go back to Coach within the year and start doing the things she wanted me to do and actually grow.

....

I truly respect and admire Coach - I just don't think that she knows how to address this, because she doesn't understand where it is coming from, since she is an extremely talented, gutsy rider and it's been a looooong time since she has been in my shoes.



I would take the four excerpts above and compose them into a short 'speech'. I'd avoid anything that sounds like blame, fault or failure.

Dear coach, I really respect and admire you a lot. The "just do it" approach isn't working for me right now and seems to exacerbate the mental blocks I've been having, which are holding me back from progressing. I'm going to take some time to address my confidence issues and work on my mental game and once I've accomplished that, I look forward to working with you again to achieve our goals.

lv4running
Jan. 10, 2012, 01:04 PM
As others have said, if you need someone else to help you progress then use that person.

I'd suspect part of the current coach's problem with understanding your issue is that you are doing what she asks and then you are happy about the results after the lessons. Perhaps she feels that if she lets you jump lower you will get stuck there. IDK, but I think if you talk with her about the level of your fear she might offer an explaination. Even if it doesn't make her happy to hear this, you have given her the chance to understand how you feel and perhaps a chance to acknowledge your need for someone else right now.

Best thing to do is be honest with your current coach. Horses are a small world and she'll find out you are working with someone else eventually. Better to be upfront and have it come from you now. Honestly, if she doesn't understand then it really is her problem and not yours. I went through that with a trainer last year and in the end I accepted that she really wasn't a friend if she didn't understand my needs. If being their student is all about them instead of about you, your riding won't progress.

Good luck!

alternating_alter
Jan. 10, 2012, 01:30 PM
JP60 - I would love to share this new trainer's thoughts with you, but you are not set up to receive private messages. If you can change your settings, i'd be happy to share them with you!

regeventer
Jan. 10, 2012, 02:05 PM
Go work with M!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If her methods are working for you, you need to follow this.

Good luck.

Ibex
Jan. 10, 2012, 04:21 PM
I actually intended to take a break from my dressage trainer; ended up changing trainers completely! I will always be grateful for the start she gave my mare, but it was just.not.working any more. In the end I realized that this trainer, plus my horse, plus me, were just not a good combination. I'm with a different trainer who has a different focus, and my horse has never gone as well as she does now...

MtyMax
Jan. 10, 2012, 04:22 PM
I would take the four excerpts above and compose them into a short 'speech'. I'd avoid anything that sounds like blame, fault or failure.

Dear coach, I really respect and admire you a lot. The "just do it" approach isn't working for me right now and seems to exacerbate the mental blocks I've been having, which are holding me back from progressing. I'm going to take some time to address my confidence issues and work on my mental game and once I've accomplished that, I look forward to working with you again to achieve our goals.

Second this!!

keatssu
Jan. 10, 2012, 04:36 PM
It sounds like you respect and admire your coach, and you have built a history working together. The crucial element that is missing is that your coach is no longer effective with you, for whatever reason. Do not stay with her because you don't want to hurt her feelings, she is well known and respected, and you've been with her for a while. Your gut has led you to find something else that does work for you. Great! As my husband told me when I was in a similar situation recently, this should be fun, and your stomach shouldn't be in knots before each lesson!
It's a hard situation to be in because you are obviously a kind person and don't want her to feel bad or be mad at you. Your riding and enjoyment are much more important, so trust your gut.

OverandOnward
Jan. 10, 2012, 05:19 PM
It sounds like it would help BOTH you and Coach if you worked with MM for awhile. Put it that way to Coach. This is something you need to do to work through the block, so that you can be the rider you want to be when you go back to Coach.

Student-teacher relationships are complex, and horse instructor-student relationships are even more complex, imo. Probably every long-term rider-instructor pair need a break from each other from time to time. People get into a pattern and it becomes hard to break, but the pattern can start to block progress to a different place.

This isn't a marriage and you aren't proposing divorce. You are not severing the relationship, and it doesn't sound as if Coach will think you are. Get some perspective on the horse part of your life, and where it fits in your whole life. Then do what is best for ***you*** and don't worry about anyone else - they will be fine.

Don't lock yourself into something that isn't less than it should/could be for both you and Coach. That does not help either one of you. Think about what you will wish you had done a couple of years from now.

Don't be over-protective of this relationship (you & Coach as instructor & student) to the ultimate detriment of the relationship. Allow Coach to have a break as well. Allow something new to happen in her program while you are schooling with MM.

This sport is not worth doing unless you feel personally strong enough to do what you need to do, and to be the rider that you want to be. :)

(btw Are you trying to be the rider you want to be, or the rider Coach thinks you should be? That can really skew the confidence build. Once you are working with MM, think about what goals you want, not what someone else thinks you should want. It could be that deep down you and Coach are not on the same page.)

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 10, 2012, 05:26 PM
Any trainer/instructor worth their salt would encourage you to broaden your knowledge base.
her insecurities are not your responsibility

OverandOnward
Jan. 10, 2012, 05:26 PM
Dear coach, I really respect and admire you a lot. The "just do it" approach isn't working for me right now and seems to exacerbate the mental blocks I've been having, which are holding me back from progressing. I'm going to take some time to address my confidence issues and work on my mental game and once I've accomplished that, I look forward to working with you again to achieve our goals.
Perfect. :)

If Coach has a problem with that, it may be time to move on. But it sounds like Coach will understand. If not, no matter how much regard you have for her, she may just not be the right choice for you. That does *not* make you a bad rider or a bad person. Nor does it make her a bad coach. Just not the best one for you.

But ... not there yet ... could be you spend some time with MM, and go back to Coach for a splendid wonderful future. :)

ideayoda
Jan. 10, 2012, 05:28 PM
So, they teach the same thing, but your comfort level is better with the new one?

alternating_alter
Jan. 10, 2012, 07:28 PM
Thanks for all the support. Now, do I wrrite her an email or say these things in person or over the phone? She's pretty busy and it's hard to pin her down.

Ideayoda - they are sort of teaching the same thing, but presenting it in a different way - different means to the same end. And yes, I am definitely more comfortable with the progressive way that M is teaching it, rather than Coach's "get it done" atttitude.

shea'smom
Jan. 10, 2012, 09:12 PM
I love my hunter trainer. He also has a way of getting me to do things easily.
I would not email. I personally don't get to my email sometimes until late at night and it would upset me to get one, no matter how nicely worded.
I would call or do it in person.
I would LOVE to hear what what M has told you that helps you so much.

lv4running
Jan. 10, 2012, 10:36 PM
If coach is really busy try e-mailing her and simply say you have some riding concerns you would like to talk with her abou and you'd like to set up a time to do this without distractions. That gives her a heads up and it brings things out in the open so you don't back out. I think you should tell her this in person though.

smm20
Jan. 11, 2012, 07:00 AM
You didn't discuss your horse very much in your post. Do you feel that your horse will continue to grow and learn while you train with the dressage and hunter instructors for a while (up to one year, if I read your post correctly)? Are there things that Coach can offer the horse that the others cannot (for example, training cross country)?

If so, you might want to compromise on her suggestion of training for a month. Arrange for Coach to school your horse every two weeks while you watch. Continue to take lessons with the dressage and hunter trainers. You learn something. Your horse continues to learn from Coach. Coach is still in the picture without the anxiety of lessons (for you).

This arrangement might be a good way to convince Coach that this is temporary and that you really will come back to her when you are ready.

alternating_alter
Jan. 11, 2012, 09:42 AM
I really cannot give out any more information regarding training techniques and issues with my horse without giving away identities - you know how the horse world is, and the minute I give someone a clue, that person will run telling to Coach and then feelings will definitely be hurt.

I can't have Coach train my horse, even part time, because my horse does not live at her barn. I cannot move my horse from his current situation, even for a month, and Coach will not/cannot come out two-three times a week to school him (nor could I be around to watch, since I work full-time), so that option, even though it's a good one, won't work for us.

M can school me xc, but not to a very high level, as she is primarily a jumper coach. Coach is an Advanced rider and has been for some time. However, Coach is very busy and has a lot of students and doesn't like to leave the farm, even for schooling, so even though she could coach me XC, she probably wouldn't, whereas M can and is willing to.

If I offer to pay Coach (say, lunch or something) for her time and sit down and discuss this with her, do you think this is the best way to handle things?

vineyridge
Jan. 11, 2012, 09:57 AM
One assumes that if Coach is an UL rider, Coach also takes advantage of specialized training from Dressage Coaches and Jumping coaches. So even though you aren't there yet, Coach has to recognize "added value" from other disciplines.

This is the time of year when most trainers get with their students and establish goals for the coming year. It's just part of their process--or should be.

Could you set up an appointment for that purpose and MAKE the discussion positive? Try and get Coach to come up with solutions that are in line with your objectives. Don't put it the way you did here, because it sounds as if Coach is the problem. Coach isn't; at this time, it's you that have the problems. And don't suggest that coach couldn't resolve your problem, while another trainer could.

Could you suggest to Coach that you feel the need to focus on specialized jumping and dressage from a pure SJ coach and a dressage coach? That you would like to still have her involved with your XC phase, and how would she suggest you do that? If you have to be a bit mendacious, say that you have developed a touch of XC fear. Since it's winter and you would be avoiding XC anyway (depending on where you live, of course), you'd like to concentrate on SJ with a SJ coach and dressage with a dressage coach.

Beam Me Up
Jan. 11, 2012, 10:06 AM
If I offer to pay Coach (say, lunch or something) for her time and sit down and discuss this with her, do you think this is the best way to handle things?

You know your coach best. IMO if you are decided on what you want to do and are basically delivering Heinz' (great) speech, you don't need to schedule in-person time (like, a "break-up" lunch sounds potentially awkward, unless you are comfortable discussing this at length). I would do it over the phone, if possible. Or, if you think she is really going to freak out or not let you finish your thought, email it so she can digest/catch her breath before responding.

Again, though, you probably know her best, and know what approach will leave you guys on the best possible terms going forward.

Jealoushe
Jan. 11, 2012, 10:14 AM
M can school me xc, but not to a very high level, as she is primarily a jumper coach. Coach is an Advanced rider and has been for some time. However, Coach is very busy and has a lot of students and doesn't like to leave the farm, even for schooling, so even though she could coach me XC, she probably wouldn't, whereas M can and is willing to.



My most successful years were the ones when I worked with a straight jumper coach. I have gone back to that route now and I feel like I am getting a lot more from my lessons. I have an UL jumper coach, and an UL dressage coach. I will go to clinics for the cross country. I think this method can work quite well.

JP60
Jan. 11, 2012, 10:41 AM
IIf I offer to pay Coach (say, lunch or something) for her time and sit down and discuss this with her, do you think this is the best way to handle things?
In some respects, perhaps there is a little more drama being built in here then is existing. Even though there is the "complex relationship" aspect to horse/trainer/rider, in the end it is a business transaction, it is your time and money being spent.

Don't ramp up the drama, tone it down. Have a conversation after a lesson and just lay it out as "I am going to do this, how can we make it work?". By keeping it low key, the reaction most likely is low key. By putting the emphasis on what you need and how can the professional help you, it allows the trainer the opportunity to provide input, but limited to your decisions. This really should not be a drawn out affair. Don't email, don't do lunch, keep it short, professional, and to the point. If she has multiple lessons, ask to stop a few minutes early and positively state your decisions.

The sense I get is that you are gaining more in learning right now working with M. That then is money better spent. Right now you state more negatives with "coach", more positives with M, thus move to the positive and in a year, check in with "Coach". You will be a different person, having experienced change and you will approach "coach", and training, from a different emotional level.

goodmorning
Jan. 11, 2012, 11:00 AM
I can't have Coach train my horse, even part time, because my horse does not live at her barn. I cannot move my horse from his current situation, even for a month, and Coach will not/cannot come out two-three times a week to school him (nor could I be around to watch, since I work full-time), so that option, even though it's a good one, won't work for us.


If you don't board your horse at the barn the transition will be a lot easier. Add me to the list of those who think a Dressage or H/J coach is the most beneficial. XC coaches can be as well, but, there's a lot of the 'Jack of all trades, master of none' out there. Of course, XC schooling aside.

Also, if the coach can not come out to school him -- are you trailering out? Trailering all over is time consuming, she should be aware of that.

If you have to pay for her time for a simple conversation, then there are deeper holes in that relationship than you think. An e-mail can suffice if you two can not seem to touch base.

FWIW, I've taken a break from my primary trainer. At first, it was due to time constraints & a big road-block in training (horses had a vaca while I was busy). Started riding with someone else, nearly out of the rut, and ready to see if I can work with primary trainer again. If I sense any animosity I will move on.

As owners, we have a great emotional and financial investment in our equine partners. Trainer relationships can get mucky, it's important to do your best at keeping the lines of communication open. Really, that's all you can do, and let the dust settle where it may.

olympicprincess
Jan. 11, 2012, 11:16 AM
If you plan to go back to Coach within the year, I wouldn't say anything. If she asks, be honest, but make it no big deal.

Sounds like you've tried to talk to her and nothing changed, so taking a break is going to get the point across to her.

I took a break from my regular trainer for 6-7mo about a year ago, and while she knew I was working a dressage trainer, I'm not sure if she knows I went to another event trainer. I found no way to tell her without it being an insult, so I said nothing.:winkgrin:

I went back and forth on bringing it up, but in the end I decided: I pay her to help me. If I choose to not take a lesson, I may do so.

Trainers are busy. I doubt they sit around worrying about why they haven't seen you. ...and if she does, oh well, you tried to tell her you weren't comfortable. Don't cross the trainer/friend line and it won't be so awkward.

OverandOnward
Jan. 11, 2012, 11:46 AM
If coach is really busy try e-mailing her and simply say you have some riding concerns you would like to talk with her abou and you'd like to set up a time to do this without distractions. That gives her a heads up and it brings things out in the open so you don't back out. I think you should tell her this in person though.Yeah this.

She must make time for this conversation if your relationship has any value to her. Your request is not unusual, it is not an imposition. It is a normal need for any rider in her program. You are not less than the other riders, even if they are working at a higher level. (I begin to see where confidence issues may be coming from ... )

If you and Coach are not regularly talking about your program - even if it is at the end of your lesson while you are still mounted, or at the beginning - this is not the sound student-instructor relationship it needs to be.



If I offer to pay Coach (say, lunch or something) for her time and sit down and discuss this with her, do you think this is the best way to handle things?No, you should not have to pay her for such a conversation. Conversations like this should be part of her program at least twice a year, if not more. And at the beginning or end of a lesson is a good time, and won't be hard to schedule.

You seem to be doubting your value to her as a student. Think about that. Is this relationship really all you have built it up to be in your mind?

I do begin to see where some confidence issues could be coming from, no matter how good she is. You two do not have the open and accepting communications needed for you to get the most out of the relationships. Sounds like part of you has realized that.

And that brings up the question again - do you and Coach have the same idea of your future as a rider, a competitor - as one of her students? What level you will go to, at what level you want to stay? What you want isn't wrong ... either she is ok with that in her program, or you need an instructor that is aligned with what your wishes and needs.

IMO, if an instructor is pushing a student to go further than a student really wants to go, or is ready to go - a student can actually start to *lower* her own expectations. As her confidence erodes, she feels she can do less than she would if she were with an instructor that knows how to tap her belief and power.


Don't ramp up the drama, tone it down. Have a conversation after a lesson and just lay it out as "I am going to do this, how can we make it work?". By keeping it low key, the reaction most likely is low key. By putting the emphasis on what you need and how can the professional help you, it allows the trainer the opportunity to provide input, but limited to your decisions. This really should not be a drawn out affair. Don't email, don't do lunch, keep it short, professional, and to the point. If she has multiple lessons, ask to stop a few minutes early and positively state your decisions.Yeah this - very much so.


The sense I get is that you are gaining more in learning right now working with M. That then is money better spent. Right now you state more negatives with "coach", more positives with M, thus move to the positive and in a year, check in with "Coach". You will be a different person, having experienced change and you will approach "coach", and training, from a different emotional level.Agree this as well.

It is the difficulty for the student in simply doing what JP60 suggests is where I see the complexity in the relationship. I agree with JP60's perspective. But so often students do work up this basic decision, in one's own self-interest, into something much more than it is. Why do they do that? That's the interesting part.

JP60 is right - just tell her very simply and respectfully what you are going to do. If she's a good professional, whatever she feels initially, she'll handle it just fine. :)

pegasusmom
Jan. 11, 2012, 12:52 PM
Very well put OverandOnward.

and, OP, it's your checkbook.

keatssu
Jan. 11, 2012, 12:56 PM
An analogy to this situation is a married couple that has a separation - usually they eventually divorce. Sometimes they just need a break to grow separately and work things out. You won't know what the outcome will be until some time goes by and it will go one way or the other.

To put things in perspective, you take one lesson a week from her and do not have your horse in training with her - she will not be losing heaps of money if you stop taking lessons with her. It sounds like she is running a successful business. I guess what I really mean to say is that you may be worrying WAY too much about how she will take this. If you are professional and don't burn your bridges, you shouldn't have a problem going back to her if you decide too. If she responds in anything less than a professional manner, it reveals an attribute that is very undesirable in a trainer.

babyeventer23
Jan. 11, 2012, 01:51 PM
I totally agree that you need to go work with M. Fear issues are very specific, and they require a different approach for everyone, IMO. If you have a found a coach that is helping you to improve on them, you NEED to go to her!

You have been with Coach the longest. If you think taking her out to lunch would be best, then do that. If an email will help you to spell things out better, then do that, although it is a hair bit impersonal. Don't go into it dreading the worst, just approach it that you need to go a different route for the time being, and that you want to have the freedom to return to Coach whenever you feel ready to do so.

FWIW, I went through a couple of similar situations in the last year. Now I have the best of both worlds. I am riding with two separate trainers who have varying skills and qualifications that both add immensely to my riding and horsemanship education. Both of them are people that I would consider reputable professionals in the area, and they have handled my training with each other with the utmost grace. True professionals are not threatened by you utilizing multiple options!!!

Best of luck to you!!! :)

lv4running
Jan. 11, 2012, 08:48 PM
OverandOnward that was a GREAT post! OP, do what you know is right and come back here for support afterwards. I think you will feel better once you get this behind you and your riding is enjoyable again.

enjoytheride
Jan. 11, 2012, 09:00 PM
Best of luck to you, and I think that inside ourselves we know the answer the entire time it just takes time for the answer to come to the top. I've worked with fear issues for years over fences (I'm fearless on the flat) and some people get it or don't get it.

Good luck.

morganpony86
Jan. 12, 2012, 02:00 PM
I love Onward&Upward's post.




She says that I need to be pushed beyond my comfort zone and she wouldn't ask me to do something that she didn't think I could do. I trust her, and she's right,

Coach says that everybody deals with fear issues, and that we just learn to deal with them on our own.


How do I address it with Coach without hurting her feelings? I don't want to burn any bridges.

But do you really trust her, if you're having confidence issues?

That's a lie; riding is supposed to be fun, not scary! If you're scared, something is wrong.

And you shouldn't have to worry about hurting her feelings. This is a business transaction. As long as it's handled in a non-flame-throwing way, all feelings should be intact.



Any trainer/instructor worth their salt would encourage you to broaden your knowledge base.
her insecurities are not your responsibility

Exactly.

Falconfree
Jan. 13, 2012, 01:17 AM
You have already gotten a lot of great advice, but I just had to come out of lurking to add that I wish I had M to ride with! She sounds really great, and as a rider with anxiety I'm awfully jealous of you right now. :)

alternating_alter
Jan. 13, 2012, 09:30 AM
Thanks for the responses, everybody. Again, I need to reiterate that I'm not lurking behind an alter because I'm trying to sneak around behind Coach's back - I just don't want her to find out before I'm ready to address this myself. You know the horse world - a secret is only a secret if you don't tell anybody. ;)

The most frustrating thing is that it's not exactly fear, as in fear of injuring myself, or fear of falling, but I'm afraid of failure. Afraid of getting that icky distance and jump. Afraid of screwing up my very nice horse. That's not something that's easily communicable to Coach - if I was actually afraid of falling, she'd probably be able to address that, but the fear is a bit more nebulous than that.

Thanks again for the words of support. It means a lot to me.

vineyridge
Jan. 13, 2012, 09:51 AM
You should read William Micklem's COTH article, It's Not All About You, Coach. here:
http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/its-not-all-about-you-coach

And if you are in the Lexington area, going to his MSEDA presentation tomorrow would give you a feel for his very positive and supportive philosophy of coaching.

When I read the last OP post, he immediately sprang to mind. COACH is making you feel inadequate; that's just not an GOOD THING for a positive future. You need more (and I do hate this term) self-esteem in your riding and that will require earned and immediate positive reinforcement. People are trained just like animals, you know.

bornfreenowexpensive
Jan. 13, 2012, 11:45 AM
The most frustrating thing is that it's not exactly fear, as in fear of injuring myself, or fear of falling, but I'm afraid of failure. Afraid of getting that icky distance and jump. Afraid of screwing up my very nice horse. That's not something that's easily communicable to Coach - if I was actually afraid of falling, she'd probably be able to address that, but the fear is a bit more nebulous than that.

Thanks again for the words of support. It means a lot to me.


Actually that IS the MOST typical fear of most competitive riders. (You learn this when you get older;)).

The ONLY way you work through that sort of fear is riding under pressure A LOT. You do not work through this fear without practice in that pressure.

When I worked for a top show jump trainer (one who produced numerous international horses AND riders)...the lessons at home were BRUTAL. You got more nervous riding at home (fear of screwing up) and the pressure we were put under was intense. This was done on purpose. It made riding under pressure something we learned how to deal with...and competitions became easier (less stressful than riding at home).

By what you have described...your coach understands your fears. She absolutely is doing the right thing on how you get through this fear. (as long as what she is doing is challenging you, putting you under pressure...not demeaning you or insulting you--I didn't get that impression as you say you feel fantastic after the lesson).

What you have decide is whether YOU want this. It is fine to want to ride for fun. To stay more in your comfort zone. It is perfectly fine for MANY reasons to not want to ride under pressure. Lots of people do this (hell I've done it a few times--when life outside of horses had too much pressure)...they pick a level they are comfortable. They conitune to improve and work to perfect that level and have fun. This is ABSOLUTELY fine....but what your coach was working on with you is the NEXT competitive level. It is a SKILL...and one that is in all top riders. They ALL screw up (some more often then others) but what they have in common is the ability to get over it...deal with...and ride on. Some it comes more naturally (the rare ones--usually men IME)...others have to work hard for it.

You may decide that this time in your life....you don't want to take that step. But no matter what....if you want to move significantly on in a competitive riding...you will have to face this fear and get over it. And the only way to do that is by practicing under significant pressure. You should be nervous before those lessons--then make those nerves work for you.

It sounds like for what ever reason...you may need a break or a few more tools in your tool box. But do understand...that getting nervous before a lesson (just as people get nervous before a competition) is good. Learning how to deal with those nerves is important and the only way you do learn how to deal with them is by practice.

Good luck!

JP60
Jan. 13, 2012, 12:41 PM
The ONLY way you work through that sort of fear is riding under pressure A LOT. You do not work through this fear without practice in that pressure.

When I worked for a top show jump trainer (one who produced numerous international horses AND riders)...the lessons at home were BRUTAL. You got more nervous riding at home (fear of screwing up) and the pressure we were put under was intense.

I'm sorry, I read this and the line "let the beatings now commence" came into my head. :eek:

I appreciate a trainer having a student do more at home then what is required at a show, but I would not classify that as pressure. Putting pseudo pressure at home would not translate well at a show (completely different environments). Obviously it worked for you, that would not work for me.

Equestrian training is not a classroom, one size fits all method, but mostly a personal one on one process. What may work for one student would be harmful to another so I call out this view that pressure is the only way to be competitive in eventing. Good training is certainly the way to be competitive and if that means changing an approach or changing an instructor then so be it.

I have a fear of falling. I have a love of riding. The love is stronger, but I cannot ignore my fear and the only way my trainer will get that fear under control with me is by slowly working my confidence up with strong positive reenforcement, incremental challenges, and little pressure (I create enough of my own). Fun does not negate competitive spirit, but I have seen pressure bury a good rider and push her back months in training. The day I get paid to do this (ha), then I'll consider pressure as a motivator to "git er dun". Till then...party on dude an be most excellent. :cool:

Invisible Cloak
Mar. 6, 2012, 08:43 PM
Hi all. This thread turned up in a search and it's very similar to my situation. I too have made the difficult decision to switch trainers at the same barn. Long story and I will spare you from the details but all the responses so far are wonderful and only confirm that i am making the right decision by moving on.

My question is: would quitting over email be the total weenie way out? My trainer, though older, is really web saavy and we play a lot of phone tag when we do call. I haven't had the chance to see her in person lately because she's had a lot of health issues (one of my reasons to move on but not the main one). And...I am chicken to do it in person, as I feel like I won't express things the way I want. Ugh. I hate doing this but it is the only way to grow in my situation. :(

babyeventer23
Mar. 7, 2012, 04:25 PM
If you have made a practice of communicating via email in the past, I don't see why it would be a problem. I have had tech-saavy trainers and non-tech-saavy trainers...I tend to communicate with them whichever way they prefer to do it.

Best of luck to you on your upcoming change, and I hope it works out for you!!

wannaride4fun
Mar. 9, 2012, 07:12 PM
I was especially happy to read this post, and the replies that came with it. I have been with the same coach, just for weekly lessons, for 3 1/2 years, and LOVE her, and all that she has taught me. I am fortunate to live in an area that has Denny Emerson, and Sue Berrill, (15 minutes from home). I have wanted the opportunity to take a few lessons from them as well, but felt I couldn't, as long as I was committed to weekly lessons with my regular instructor. I also was interested in working with a great dressage person, and met Deb Smith, who is also close enough by to work with. Wow! Managed to take a break from my routine lessons, and take a few with this folks, and am SO lovin their input in my training and riding! There is NOTHING wrong with what I was already learning, but some new ways of saying the same things, and some new exercises are VERY helpful.

Griffyn
Mar. 10, 2012, 05:14 AM
It sounds like you are nervous about coach in many ways, and are being made more anxious about your own abilities BECAUSE you respect and admire her. Endless loop. Taking the pressure off you by training elsewhere will probably help more than the new "program" per se, but she may not be available if you'd like to restart. Thats just the way things go. Cherish the time spent, appreciate her for what shes helped you accomplish, but once you break ranks things will never be exactly the same. (which may be for the best, who knows?)

Invisible Cloak
Mar. 10, 2012, 11:42 AM
If you have made a practice of communicating via email in the past, I don't see why it would be a problem. I have had tech-saavy trainers and non-tech-saavy trainers...I tend to communicate with them whichever way they prefer to do it.

Best of luck to you on your upcoming change, and I hope it works out for you!!

Thanks Baby Eventer. Perhaps this thread will become somewhat of a how to leave your trainer for the short term or in my case, indefinitely. I sent the email and received a very teary message a few days later from my trainer. I felt really really bad, but the email I sent was very complimentary and kind. I stated my reasons clearly why I needed to move on. The new trainer is absolutely the best choice, she is able to do training rides (main reason for me to switch since current one cannot ride do to health), is on the property and has a whole stable of happy and winning clients.

Yesterday I receive a childish email to return something of trainers, then I find that the stupid barn rumor mill has begun. I had a long work day and wanted to take a trail ride to clear my head. I hand gallop up my favorite trail at sunset, round the corner - and boom - other horse coming the other way ( I have never seen anyone on this section of trail especially that time of day) spooks my horse big and I slam my as* on the ground for the first time in two years. It was like adding injury to insult.

I get back to barn and hear from another boarder that old trainer has spoken with new trainer, and (I'm guessing here but) ripped her a new one for 'taking' me. New trainer is understandably very frustrated at this ridiculousness. As a result I don't even want to go to the barn this weekend. The barn is my happy place, I have a super demanding job, and I hate drama. I just wish professionals would act more like professionals in this business.

OverandOnward
Mar. 10, 2012, 03:55 PM
Very, very sorry you are having to deal with some of the least pleasant aspects of humanity. Jealousy, gossip, childishness and general lack of common sense. (Why is childishness done so badly by adults?)

Put the word out, very short & simple, that this was YOUR decision and no one else's. That will help protect the new trainer. Hopefully new trainer will be willing to take the high road, keep the head up and proceed to help you as if none of the drama is taking place. And not talk about it with anyone. Let the explanation come from you alone, since you own that decision.

For the old trainer to behave this way is, imo, self-destructive, as well as childish and insecure. It is too bad that choice is being made - but it is old trainer's choice, and no one else's. IF you thought you could explain in person and have it well rec'd, to smooth it over, that's an option. If you think the conversation will (or might) go badly, you might have to just step away and let the chips fall. If you and new trainer handle things well, old trainer comes away looking the worst in the eyes of sensible people.

This too will pass. Stay true to yourself, and your horse. If there are some short or long-range negatives, so long as you don't get involved in them those are due to the choices of others - not you. Hopefully everyone gets past it.